MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Hundreds of Mexican soccer fans partied outside the South Korean embassy in Mexico City on Wednesday to thank the Asian country for its victory over Germany, which guaranteed the national team a spot in the knock-out stages of the World Cup.
After Sweden beat Mexico 3-0 on Wednesday, Mexican fans turned their support to South Korea, fearful that a victory by Germany would send their players home.
South Korea then stunned the world by defeating Germany 2-0 with two goals in the final minutes of the game, ensuring the former world champions were eliminated and allowing Mexico to finish the group in second place.
Though South Korea itself was knocked out, Mexicans flocked to the embassy to celebrate the Asian team.
“Thank you so much, (Koreans) are awesome. They are awesome,” Gladys Ison, a 19-year-old Mexican said as she waved a South Korean flag outside the embassy.
Mexican airline Aeromexico announced a 20 percent discount on its Korean flights, saying: “We love you Korea!”
Traffic snarled around the embassy in the capital’s upscale Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood as jubilant fans leapt up and down, cheered and drank tequila, mobbing Korean diplomatic staff and singing Mexican soccer hymns.
Counselor Park Sun-tae was raised smiling aloft on fans’ shoulders, who chanted “Korean, brother, now you’re Mexican!”
The consul general at the embassy, Byoung-jin Han, said, “There’s no distinction between Mexicans and Koreans today. We’re celebrating together.” Mexican staff at the embassy were crying with joy, he added.
Fans also led an embassy official in a chorus of “Cielito Lindo,” Mexico’s unofficial soccer anthem.
Waving the flags of both countries and sporting sombreros, a loud group of fans partied on an old fire truck, honking its horn and pouring tequila off the roof into the open mouth of a local waiter who had come to join the celebrations.
Even fans of the Swedish team stopped off at the fiesta.
Johan Lindblom, 47, a Mexico City-based businessman originally from Stockholm wearing a Sweden shirt was relieved that both teams had progressed. “A final between Sweden and Mexico, that would be the ultimate,” he said.
Celebrations spread to the historic center of the capital, where World Cup games are being shown on giant screens. Mexican fans mobbed Asian tourists, and TV footage showed one laughing Asian man being flung into the air and caught by the crowd.
Memes spread across social media, including one of the Mexican and Korean flags combined as one.
“Maybe it is not the best way of getting through, but we’re through. We are very grateful,” said Pablo Gonzalez, 45.
(This version of the story corrects paragraph 9 spelling to Byoung instead of Bjoung)
Reporting by Dave Graham; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Cynthia Osterman and Richard Chang